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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But in the realm of ideas, “imitation” can cross over into something “indictable”, fairly quickly. Particularly when the object of your imitation is unaware of your intentions, or actions. Such was the case, and the lesson learned by toy company, GoldieBlox.

The company produces a product that, it says, is empowering to girls, teaching them that they can crossover typical cultural gender roles, and be who they want to be.

To power their Girl Power campaign, GoldieBlox chose one of the catchiest songs of recent decades that seems to present an opposite viewpoint. At least that’s what the folks at GoldieBlox thought. They grabbed the Beastie Boys megahit “Girls,” changed the lyrics, and used the new song as the back track to their web-based commercials.

Their rationale for the admitted “borrowing” of the Beastie’s intellectual property? The song was misogynistic, so we re-messaged it. Yeah, about that…

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, says GoldieBlox transgressed two sacred public relations, and intellectual property commandments in doing so.

First, they used someone else’s intellectual property without express permission. Not only is this highly illegal, it is immoral to use someone else’s property to sell your product without giving them credit, and the right of refusal. GoldieBlox tried to squirm out of the first issue by claiming “parody”, and the second by saying the song was immoral as released, so they improved it.

Unfortunately, for GoldieBlox, the legal argument might work if they were actually creating a parody (and obtaining contractual permission). However, they were creating a commercial, not a parody.

GoldieBlox’s second argument leads to what Torossian says is the worst of the company’s transgressions. They did not understand what they were mocking. While, on the surface, the song is certainly not an ode to equal treatment of women, the Beasties have a long history of explaining the song, and it’s intent. They also have an established history of treating women with profound respect in, and out, of their music. While there may be a few rap acts out there who GoldieBlox could have accused of misogyny, this is not one of them.

Further, and this is where Torossian says the company really crossed the line, the Beastie Boys made a conscious decision LONG ago not to allow any of their music to be used for separate commercial purposes. So, on that premise, the band’s reps contacted GoldieBlox essentially saying: “What’s up with this???”

GoldieBlox responded by … wait for it … SUEING THE BAND!

Yep, the company that stole the intellectual property, used it without permission, and then tried to hide behind the thinnest of justifications, actually SUED they brand they stole from.

Now it’s all part of the public record … not to mention a VERY public PR catastrophe GoldieBlox dropped on itself.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.